Texas Prison Rape Lawsuit Dismissed

Wow, one has to stay on top of things to follow ongoing trials. Apparently last October, a Texas jury dismissed an ACLU lawsuit about the prison rape. Perhaps the details of the case didn’t merit the awarding of damages. Still it makes prisons more careful about ignoring pleas from prisoners who are abused (lest they be sued).

Apparently the Texas ACLU has the Liberty Blog which lists Texas-specific legal initiatives.

Movie stuff. I rewatched Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut for the second time and was really taken by it. Interestingly, I learned that women in general don’t respond favorably to this film at all (although Janet Maslin wrote a beautiful essay about the film):

On goes “Eyes Wide Shut,” to the Sonata Cafe and over the Rainbow, into a string of grippingly intense encounters that test Bill over and over. Part of the film’s sustained tension comes from the slow, ribbonlike way in which these episodes unfold, with fidget-prompting long takes and not much background music to provide relief; part of it comes from the viewer’s complete uncertainty about what will happen next. These open-ended vignettes feature small, indelible performances — from Alan Cumming as a conspiratorial hotel concierge, glowering Rade Sherbedgia as the proprietor of a costume rental shop and Leelee Sobieski as his naughty daughter (perfectly embodying the “smile of impish desire” described by Schnitzler), Vinessa Shaw and Fay Masterson as prostitutes who entangle Bill — that define the film’s landscape as surely as topographical features would.

David Edelstein has a much less charitable view in his review:

Who are these people played by Cruise and Kidman, who act as if no one has ever made a pass at them and are so deeply traumatized by their newfound knowledge of sexual fantasies–the kind that mainstream culture absorbed at least half a century ago? Where do these heroically self-sacrificing prostitutes come from? Who are these aristocrats whose limos take them to secret masked orgies in Long Island mansions? Even dream plays need some grounding in the real world. There might have been a way to make the movie work if the characters hadn’t been so abstracted, so generic. But in an evocative (if self-serving) piece in The New Yorker, Raphael notes that his original script was ultimately “blanched of all the duplicity that made it alive” for him, that at every turn Kubrick took out details of personality in pursuit of an underlying archetype. I don’t know how a director whose central theme is the loss of humanity can be so uninterested in the minutiae of human speech and behavior.

(I wrote detailed remarks about the film on my What I’m Reading/Watching page).

While watching the orgy film, I was reminded of this remarkable music video produced by Jake Nava called Baby Boy (sung by Sean Paul and Beyonce). Same thing, but much more orgasmic and upbeat. I’ve always felt that music videos are cutting edge on style.

I’m reading a perfect novella called Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald.

Scott Esposito writes the essay all of us wanted to, but never got around to: why the Top Novels of the Past 25 Years was a Bogus Project: (Great job, Scott!)

there’s nothing wrong with including the obvious choices in your pool of judges, but where are the lesser-known names? Where are the editors of literary journals? Were are the writers published by small and/or independent presses? Where are the “genre” authors? Where are the–God forbid–bloggers?

This essay was simple a debate-starter, not serious criticism. I don’t read widely enough of contemporary American fiction, but I find staggering that none of Oates’ books appears in the top list. I personally feel she’s doing a lot more exciting things in her prose than Toni Morrison (which don’t really have any aesthetic viewpoint, only that of social justice. (I’ve only read 3 of TM’s works, so maybe I’m offbase).

Audio of 3 film critics in the 1960s debate the state of world cinema. 2 parts. A little rowdy, but Pauline Kael comes off as the most reasonable.